Medicare may cover elastic bandages in some cases. Learn more about how elastic bandages work and whether Medicare may help with costs.

What is an elastic bandage?

According to the National Institutes of Health, an elastic bandage is a dressing that puts pressure on an injury, like a sprain. This can help with blood flow and reduce swelling.

An elastic bandage is also known as a compression bandage. You can use an elastic bandages as a secondary dressing that goes over a primary dressing (the bandage or gauze that goes directly over your wound). When used this way, the elastic bandage helps hold the primary dressing in place. You can also use it to secure an ice pack to your arm or leg.

Elastic bandages don’t otherwise support or protect your injury. They can vary in size and length, and most can be washed and reused. 

How does an elastic bandage work?

Elastic bandages are simple to use at home. If you’re using one to apply pressure to an injury, simply wrap the bandage directly over the gauze or dressing that covers the wound. Circle it around your arm or leg until the wound is completely covered.

You want the elastic bandage to feel fitted, but not be so tight that it cuts off circulation, according to the National Health Service (UK). Make sure to keep the elastic bandage clean by washing it and letting it completely dry before reusing, advises MyHealthAlberta.

Does Medicare cover elastic bandages?

It depends. Medicare Part B may cover medically necessary supplies to treat a wound after surgery. So, if you need an elastic bandage as part of your post-surgery treatment, Medicare may cover it. After meeting the Part B deductible, you’ll usually pay a 20% coinsurance for doctor services or a copayment if you see your doctor in a hospital outpatient setting.

If you need an elastic bandage to treat an injury at home, like a sprain, Medicare might not cover medical supplies like bandages. Medicare may cover elastic bandages if you need it to treat certain types of wounds, such as a venous ulcer. This is an open sore on your leg that can happen when blood in the veins doesn’t flow up to your heart effectively. Instead, the blood and extra fluid stays in your lower leg, and, over time, can create an ulcer. An elastic bandage can help with the swelling and keep the blood from building up.

Part B covers some types of supplies for you to use at home under its durable medical equipment. But these items need to be “durable” and long-lasting. Although you can re-use elastic bandages, everyday medical supplies don’t usually meet the criteria for Medicare coverage. So if you need an elastic bandage to treat a wound at home, such as a strain, and it’s not for a qualifying wound, you’ll generally pay for it out of pocket. If you aren’t sure whether your injury qualifies for coverage, you can always call Medicare directly at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), 24 hours a day, seven days a week (all U.S. time zones). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of how Medicare covers supplies like elastic bandages. Click on the “Get Quotes” button on this page to get started today.